ATI Radeon HD 6950 Review

Written by bit-tech Staff

December 16, 2010 | 07:57

Tags: #benchmark #catalyst #comparison #directx-11 #dx11 #fast #fps #gtx-560 #performance #red-team #should-i-buy #speed #value

Companies: #amd #ati #test

Radeon HD 6950 Results Analysis

As the Radeon HD 6950 2GB has no direct competitor on price, we imagined it’d slot neatly between the Radeon HD 6870 1GB and Radeon HD 6970 2GB. Oddly enough, this is the spot that’s been recently occupied by the out-going Radeon HD 5870 1GB, the darling of ATI’s last generation of cards. It’s this card that the HD 6950 2GB performs closest to across almost all graphics tests.

In Dirt 2, the HD 6950 2GB finds itself almost exactly half way between the performance of the HD 6870 1GB and the HD 6970 2GB. While this means it’s still some way off of the high-end Nvidia GeForce GTX 500-series cards, the HD 6950 2GB still produced playable results at even 2,560 x 1,600 with 4x AA. The new card's performance is almost identical to that of the HD 5870 1GB at every test setting, with just 1-2fps difference between the two cards.

*ATI Radeon HD 6950 Review Radeon HD 6950 Results Analysis

As Call of Duty: Black Ops is a fairly easy game to run, we needed to look higher up the resolution scale to see how cards really stack up when playing the game. At 1,920 x 1,200 with 4x AA though, we saw that the HD 6950 2GB is actually a little faster than the HD 5870 1GB, albeit only by 2fps. Performance was certainly much closer to that of the HD 6970 2GB than the HD 6870 1GB at every resolution, no doubt partly due to the 2GB of GDDR5 memory of the card.

Just Cause 2 showed the HD 6950 2GB’s similarity in performance to the HD 5870 1GB: at 2,560 x 1,600 the two cards performed identically. This is by no means a bad thing though, as both cards are fast, producing playable minimum frame rates up to 1,920 x 1,200 with 4x AA.

Again, the performance of the HD 6950 2GB was roughly halfway between that of the HD 6970 2GB and the HD 6870 1GB, with an average frame rate of 40fps at 1,920 x 1,200 with 4x AA rather than the HD 6970 2GB’s 45fps and the HD 6870 1GB’s 36fps. As there's little from Nvidia at this price point, you need to pay the extra £60 for a GTX 570 1.3GB to get playable frame rates at the same resolution if you're determined to avoid ATI.

While it looks like much the same story in Battlefield Bad Company 2, with the performance of the HD 6950 2GB sitting almost exactly halfway between that of the HD 6970 2GB and the HD 6870 1GB at up to 1,920 x 1,200 with no AA, things got more interesting as the settings got more demanding.

At 1,920 x 1,200 with 4x AA, the performance of the HD 6950 2GB was closer to that of the HD 6970 2GB than to the HD 5870 1GB. It's minimum of 34fps was just 1fps slower than ATI's new top-end card, but 4fps faster than the HD 5870 1GB. The GeForce GTX 460 1GB can manage to play Bad Company 2 smoothly at 1,920 x 1,200 with 4x AA, but its minimum of 27fps doesn't leave much performance headroom, even if you do save £90. If you want an Nvidia card and minimums of over 30fps the GTX 570 1.3GB delivers a minimum of 43fps for the extra £60.

*ATI Radeon HD 6950 Review Radeon HD 6950 Results Analysis

Power Consumption and Temperatures

The power consumption of the HD 6950 2GB was lower than even Nvidia’s mid-range GTX 460 cards. Causing our test PC to suck just 138W from the wall at idle is a fine result, and a draw of 256W under load is also impressive.

The HD 6950 2GB’s thermal performance might look unfavourable, but in reality it’s little to worry about. Idling at 26°C above room temperature is a trait shared with the HD 6970 2GB, and allows the HD 6950 2GB fan to remain very quiet. Under load the HD 6950 2GB also shares the same thermal parameters as the HD 6970 2GB, peaking at 54°C above room temperature.

This appears to be the card’s thermal trip point, after which the fan will increase in speed to keep the GPU at this temperature. As the HD 6950 2GB runs at reduced frequencies and power load, its fan spins slower than that of its bigger brother, allowing the fan to be a little quieter. It’s still noticeable as a low whooshing under load, but it isn’t intrusive in the same way as case-cookers such as the Radeon HD 5970 2GB are.
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